At the roots of bias--which often leads to discrimination, which sometimes turns to violence—lies a lack of understanding. Unwillingness to even try to understand another’s identity, perspective, appearance, circumstances, or choices can manifest as fear and articulate as hate. This is why, as we conclude Transgender Awareness Week, we must both mourn the trans and nonbinary individuals who have died because they tried to live authentically and lift up the resilience and power of those who continue to speak their truth every day.
Since 1999, November 20 has been set aside as a day to remember trans lives that have been lost to violence. The vast majority of trans people who are subject to anti-trans violence are people of color. We know some of their names, but many of their stories are kept silent. We don’t know the names of all the young people who have left home or been kicked out of their homes because of their identities, and who are likely to experience violence. We don’t know the names of all the children and youth who are bullied because of their gender expression and die by suicide. We don’t know all the names of trans and nonbinary people who were victims of violence but whose families are ashamed to explain why.
Here’s what we do know.
We can and must advocate for passage, implementation, and funding of policies that will protect and support trans and nonbinary people, especially Black, Indigenous, and brown trans communities. Start by reading the Transgender Law Center’s Trans Agenda for Liberation, created by a national coalition of majority Black, Indigenous, and migrant trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming leaders.
We can and must educate ourselves about the challenges and cultural circumstances that trans (and other LGBTQIA+ individuals) people encounter every day. We must normalize gender diversity and be consistently inclusive of trans and nonbinary folks. An easy way to start is by expanding our vocabularies and sharing our pronouns.
We can and must celebrate our trans and nonbinary siblings as they live their lives in a way that expresses their authentic selves. This means being welcoming to others and open to new ways of doing things. The Human Rights Campaign talked with four members of Congress about their trans and nonbinary family members for this video: Marking Trans Awareness Week With Members of Congress. We need to get comfortable having these conversations everywhere from the kitchen table to the floor of Congress.
DC Action stands in solidarity with our transgender and nonbinary siblings as we mark this commemoration with both solemnity as we remember those we’ve lost, and celebration as we support those who are still with us, fighting for equality every day.
DC-area events for Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience include
- A virtual service on Saturday, November 20 at 7pm sponsored by the Transgender Education Association of Greater Washington and the Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia
- We Remember, We Unite, We Honor, a live event on Saturday, November 20 from 11am to 2pm featuring speakers, musicians, and poets, sponsored by Heart to Hand.
- Black Trans Joy Brunch on Sunday, November 21 at 11am, celebrating Black trans culture and featuring live performances and mini-ball contests with cash prizes.